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World Events that Coincided with the American Revolution (1750-1800)

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The Mid to Late 18th Century is the period in time remembered for the reversal of great world powers and new age of revolution. Many works of fine art were produced during this time, along with a renewed interest in philosophy. Inspirational music, literature, portraits, sculptors and architecture flourished with the ideal of the past influencing the minds of the people. For this inception of ideas, this period in history is considered the age of Enlightenment. The Neoclassical art movement blossomed in Europe and the effect of this era continues to impact contemporary society today.


The Classical era in music is often identified as being from the years 1750-1800 (more often classified by historians as spanning between 1800-1827), but its origins can be traced to the early part of the century.

Classicism refers to the aesthetic attitudes and principles manifested in the art, architecture, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome and characterized by emphasis on form, simplicity, proportion, and restraint – this influence is clearly seen in the architecture of the time – the American White House is an excellent example. The Musical Public

* Economic equality amongst the classes begins to emerge
* Prosperous middle class, but poor still stay poor, and rich still stay really rich
* Pre-1700’s
* concerts in the salon and aristocratic court
* rich learn to play instruments and sing
* professional composers and musicians are servants to the rich
* Post-1720
* first public concerts are given with the intention “to educate the middle class” – common in London, Prague Vienna and Paris
* Handel’s Oratorios were the beginning of public concerts in the Baroque era-vocal pieces set with a story that the average person knows and can identify with * Instrumental instruction is more available to the middle class * increasing numbers of teachers, students, production of instruments and music publishing * Composers and musicians begin to free themselves from the patronage of the rich * teach, perform, travel, sell music

* Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven do this in their individual ways * (Haydn was in the service of a wealthy prince for most of his life, but in his later years became independent, living off the sale of his music, traveling, and being in control of his finances) * Music becomes more accessible to the public, easier to listen to and to play

Many social and political changes in the 18th century
* Death of Louis XIV of France in 1715
* Louis XIV (France’s so called “Sun King’) had the longest reign in European history (1643-1715)
* During his reign he:
* brought absolute monarchy to its zenith
* established a extravagant court at Versailles
* engaged most of the other European countries in four wars
* The century ended with modern history’s most important revolutions in modern times:
* American War of Independance (1775-83)

* French Revolution (1789-94)
Age of Enlightenment (Age of Reason)
* A philosophical movement lead by French philosophers Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau
* A movement set to apply the principles of social objectivity to issues of social justice
* The overall ideals had the tended to favor:

* the human over the divine
* reason over religion
* clarity over complexity

* Rousseau postulated that man is born good, only to be corrupted by society
* The Enlightenment movement attempted to break down the barriers of the rigid class structure that caused:
* social separation between the classes
* improve education
* eliminate superstition and prejudice
* Increasing scientific knowledge of the time gave rise to the development of empiricist (that which derives from experience), naturalist, and materialist doctrines and strong opposition to clericalism (a policy of supporting the power and influence of the clergy in political or secular matters)

Rulers of this time were influenced by the Enlightenment and its ideals: * Emperor Joseph II of Austria
* amateur musician and strong supporter of the arts * his court was in Vienna, the capital of the Holy Roman Empire
* all of the arts thrived in Vienna
* after Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven had become well known as Viennese residents, the city had become the center of musical activity by the end of the 18th century

* Frederick the Great of Prussia
* amateur musician and strong supporter of the arts

During the 1780’s and 90’s, the concepts of Enlightenment were known throughout Europe * England’s middle class had begun to declare their own rights to free expression and leisure time * France’s reigning authority of Louis XIV had disintegrated by the end of the century as Louis XV (1715-74) and Louis XVI (1774-89) had taken over after the death of Louis XIV in 1715 * the heirs to Louis XIV’s throne had become increasingly corrupt and out of touch with the people * ended with the beheading of Louis XVI and the beginning of the French Revolution

* Voltaire b. Francois Marie Aroue (Paris, 1694-1778)
* French poet and dramatist
* for writing some satirical verses, he spent a year imprisoned in the Bastille (a fortress and prison in Paris, the Bastille was a symbol of royal absolutism (a political theory holding that all power should be vested in one ruler or other authority) before the French Revolution) (1717-18), after which he adopted the name Voltaire * “Crush the infamous” was a slogan that Voltaire raised against: * the church

* Christianity
* intolerance
* the horrible systems of:
* criminal injustice
* taxation
* censorship of the press
* Curiously, some consider Voltaire a source for the beginnings of modern anti-Semitism
* Voltaire long struggled with the idea of God and felt that God was necessary to explain: * the universe and life

* to justify morality
* to act as a policeman for the despised common people * All of these ideals concerning the Enlightenment led to the slow destruction of the upper class (aristocracy) and rise in middle class in their economic status and amount of leisure time

* “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood!” was the Enlightenment slogan of the day

Freemasonry founded 1717: organization for the common man (but excluded women):
* Famous members:
* Joseph II
* Goethe (German poet)
* Mozart
* George Washington
* The masons were essentially an international secret society of social
charity and mutual support

Scientific Discoveries in the Classical Era
* the first vaccine
* oxygen
* hydrogen
* electricity
* electromagnetic induction
* electromagnetic induction is the creation of an electric field by a time-varying magnetic field * ultraviolet rays

* Inventions of the Classical Era that influenced the Industrial Revolution beginning around 1760 in England
* steam engine
* spinning jenny
* electric motors
* generators

* Women in the Classical Era
* Queens Reign
* Maria Theresa of Austria (1740-1780)
* “Catherine the Great” of Russia (1762-1796)
* Writers
* Jane Austen (1775-1817)
* works
* Emma
* Pride and Prejudice
* Sense and Sensibility
* very little recognition during her lifetime – her name was not placed on the title pages of her books
* Composers
* Anna Amalie
* German
* composed opera and chamber music
* Julie Candeille (1767-1834)
* French
* singer, pianist, harpist, and composer
* works
* Catherine – comic opera – over 150 performances
* a piano concerto
* art songs
* Hostesses
* Marie Lieszcinska (wife of Louis XV)
* initiated an important concert series at Versailles (a city in north central France)
* attracted many important musicians to the series
* Madame de Pompadour
* Marie-Antoinette of Austria (wife of Louis XVI) (1770)
* entertained guests with music within a consistent setting
* patronized young composers and musicians
* gave food and encouragement


1773 Boston Tea Party occurs as colonial activists disguise themselves as Mohawk Indians then board the ships and dump all 342 containers of tea into the harbor.

1778 Edinburgh book binding

1778 Treaty of Paris Signed by France and US, The American Revolution became aWorld War

1783 Peace of Versailles, Britain formally recognizes USA

1784 First Balloon Flight in Scotland

1793 execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France

1796 Smallpox vaccination developed by Jenner

799 Napoleon Bonaparte was made First consul of France

Retrieved from:

http://www.xtimeline.com/timeline/ART-623-Fine-Art-1750-AD—1800-AD http://baltimoreteacher.com/index.cfm?pid=153
http://faculty.washington.edu/qtaylor/a_us_history/1700_1800_timeline.htm http://www.harford.edu/faculty/kkramer/CLAS.HTM
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Age_of_Enlightenment http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/1751t.htm

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